SMS contact as an Indicator of Community Trust

This week I’m setting an SMS gateway for the GlobalGiving Storytelling Project. This would allow us to deliver feedback to the 6000+ storytellers in Kenya and Uganda, hopefully supplying them with useful information about HIV testing, meetings, sports events, etc. I’d even like to set up a “search stories by SMS” feature where you text in a question and it delivers back a story that best matches your text message.

In the other direction, this same technology allows us to add an “ask the storyteller a question” feature to each of the public stories, and we can then relay that message to the author and post a reply. All in due time.

Of course we can only share these tools with people who checked the box on the paper form “[ ] It’s okay to contact me by SMS.”

Here is where it gets interesting. A person’s openness to receiving messages is very different from one town to the next:

Question: Can we contact you later by SMS?

City OK NOT OK Trust Ratio
NAIROBI (mostly Kibera slum) 3841 3653 1.05
KAKAMEGA 2252 171 13.17
MASAKA 1564 412 3.80
RAKAI 709 189 3.75
KISUMU 534 192 2.78
KAMPALA 353 100 3.53
134 43 3.12
BUSIA 329 14 23.50
KAKAMEGA NORTH 262 7 37.43
TRANS-NZOIA 232 2 116.00
LWENGO 147 57 2.58
MOMBASA 116 47 2.47
JINJA 153 13 11.77
KITALE 156 8 19.50
RAKAL 140 3 46.67
KIPIPIRI 129 1 129.00
LAIKIPIA 124 5 24.80
NYAHURURU 116 2 58.00
VIHIGA 89 10 8.90
NAKURU 71 18 3.94
RAIKIPIA 79 1 79.00
TRANZOIA EAST 69 3 23.00
KIAMBU 47 16 2.94
KISII 49 7 7.00
ELDORET 36 26 1.38
KAKAMEGA EAST 65 1 65.00
KALUNGU 45 21 2.14


I am going to assume that people who don’t want to be contacted have a lower trust of outsiders. If you are reading this and live in America – where marketers flood your email, phone, and television with unwanted advertisements, you would attribute the reason check the  “do not disturb” box to general annoyance, but here – we haven’t been flooded yet. Not even in Nairobi. I only get phone spam from SafariCom.

Of the three locations (among the top 20 biggest places) with the largest percentage of people opting out, 2 are in Nairobi and one is the epicenter of the 2007 post election violence (Eldoret). I think this supports my theory the the ratio of opt-ins to opt-outs is correlated with trust. If if you looked at this as purely a function of urbanness, Kampalans prefer getting SMS feedback three times as much as Nairobians.

People are quite a bit more open to being contacted in Western Kenya (Kakamega, Busia, Kitale)  than in Central Kenya (Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisii). Ugandans fall somewhere in between. Although previously I showed that people in Uganda are much more reluctant to provide negative feedback than Kenyans.

Related Trust post about Uganda & Kenya: I trust you but…

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